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Union leaders call for police to explain document shredding

16 February 2017

Trade union leaders have issued a joint statement in response to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) confirmation that London's Metropolitan Police has destroyed evidence intended for use in the public inquiry into undercover policing known as the Pitchford Inquiry. 

The joint trade unions statement:

We the undersigned are outraged at the news that despite court orders to the contrary, the Metropolitan Police Service has destroyed evidence required for use in the Undercover Policing Public Inquiry. State spying on trade unions and political campaigns is a human rights scandal that affects millions of British citizens. 
Despite continued reassurances, the Pitchford Inquiry has failed to secure the documents that will be central to the investigation. Trade union core participants are beginning to question whether the Inquiry team has the ability to stop the police from obstructing the pursuit of justice. Lord Justice Pitchford needs to act now to restore our faith. 
We are calling on Lord Justice Pitchford to announce an urgent inquiry hearing to examine the destruction of evidence by the police. The Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe should be forced to give evidence under oath to explain why, how and under whose authority documents have been destroyed. 
Lord Justice Pitchford needs to take immediate measures to secure all documentation held by the police, in order to prevent future destruction and avoid the entire inquiry descending into a hugely expensive cover-up on the part of the Metropolitan Police. 

Len McCluskey - Unite general secretary

Gail Cartmail - Unite acting general secretary

Matt Wrack - Fire Brigades Union (FBU) general secretary

Chris Kitchen - National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) general secretary

Mick Cash - Rail Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) general secretary

Michelle Stanistreet - National Union of Journalists (NUJ) general secretary

Dave Smith and Roy Bentham - Blacklist Support Group joint secretaries

Dave Smith, blacklisted construction worker and core participant to the inquiry, said:

"The Pitchford inquiry has been running for nearly two years and so far not a single document has been disclosed to our lawyers and not a single witness has given evidence. The delay is entirely due to police attempts to try and keep their dirty secrets away from public scrutiny. The police are no longer just obstructing justice, by shredding evidence they are in contempt of court. We demand to know who gave the order and whether criminal charges will be brought against them. The more this scandal unfurls, the more it appears that the Met Police think they can act however they want because they are above the law. This has got to stop."

Background information:

UCATT, FBU, NUM and BSG have all been granted core participant status in the Pitchford inquiry. There is irrefutable evidence in the public domain that UNITE, NUJ and RMT unions' activists have been kept under surveillance by undercover police officers. 

NUJ members under police surveillance mount collective legal challenge

Inquiry over Met police intelligence unit claimed to have destroyed files

Tags: , surveillance, police, pitchford inquiry, undercover, trade union rights, trade unions, metropolitan police, legal challenge